We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. - Joseph Conrad, Polish-born English novelist and writer (1857-1924) Everything in our lives has to take a backseat to our needs in recovery. There is no other priority that is more important at this time. There will, of course, be a lifetime for us to plan and do other things, after we have gained a firm foundation in recovery. This takes time. We should allocate the first year of our recovery to focus solely on working the 12-Steps, becoming comfortable in our new-found sobriety, gaining self-confidence, rebuilding our self-esteem, and learning how to hope. We should use this first year to reconnect with our loved ones, to rebuild relationships damaged by our addictive behavior in the past, to begin to show our affection and demonstrate our responsibility as we rebuild our lives in sobriety. It won't always be easy. In fact, there will be days that are downright challenging. But a challenge doesn't mean we can't succeed. It just means that we will need to use everything in our toolkit, enlist the support of our fellow 12-step group members and sponsor, and call on our loved ones to be understanding and constant in their encouragement. It means that we will need to work hard at our recovery. The results will be rewarding. In fact, we'll reap more benefits than we can even begin to imagine just now. What is really going on during the first year of our recovery is that we are shedding the skin of our old lives and creating a whole new existence of our making. We have chosen this path, set out upon it with firm determination and a goal in mind. We will not be deterred if we focus on our recovery. Putting our recovery first is more than just a recommendation by recovery experts. It is a research-proven practice that helps solidify our recovery. If we doubt that, just listen to the old-timers in the rooms. Hear them talk about what happened when they took their eye off their recovery and veered into dangerous territory. Whether it was a person or a place or just over-confidence, when they got sloppy or lazy, bad things were just waiting to pounce. Remember that recovery isn't a one-time thing. It's not a race, either. Rather, it is a lifetime journey. We need to be sure we have our feet firmly planted on the ground and put our entire focus on our recovery in the first six months to a year. As we've heard from others, if we keep doing what works, keep working the Steps we'll get where we want to go.